By Randy Tate
The Trump administration has made it crystal clear to China that Washington does not recognize Beijing’s claim to virtually all of the South China Sea, in a big win for Taiwan.
In comments on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would stand firm with its allies in throughout the Asian theater in backing their claims to a portion of the body of water as well.
‘We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,’ Pompeo said in a statement referencing the body of water through which some $5 trillion in global trade also passes every year.
‘The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,’ he added.
‘America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law,” Pompeo noted further.
The Washington Times adds:
China’s activities have included developing some 3,200 acres of disputed islands and then deploying advanced military weapons on them, including anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. The South China Sea contains vast commercial fishing resources and harbors large reserves of undersea oil and natural gas.
The Chinese Embassy issued a statement saying Mr. Pompeo’s statement distorted the facts and international law.
‘The accusation is completely unjustified,’ according to an embassy spokesman. ‘The Chinese side is firmly opposed to it.’
Previous U.S. administrations have expressed Washington’s commitment to neutrality in all South China Sea maritime disputes involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The Trump administration has issued its declaration as tensions remain high in the region. Two Navy aircraft carrier battle groups conducted round-the-clock air operations in the South China Sea in a show of strength and support for allies last week.